Tag Archives: Hawk Leadership Institute

From a Cougar to a Hawk

First Things First

My name is Natalia Marfil. This isn’t my first time attending college, but I’m still a freshman and entirely new to UHCL. Even though I’m not a fish fresh out of high school, I’m still going to constantly get lost inside the Bayou Building. (Everything at every turn looks just the same!) Thankfully, I’ve already met some wonderful people, both in class and through the Hawk Leadership Institute. We can get lost together. UHCL promises to offer an exciting and enriching college experience, and I am more than eager to share my crazy journey with all of you. Stick around, I might even say something worthwhile.

From a Cougar to a Hawk
High school graduation seems like it was ages ago, doesn’t it? Before our caps even hit the blog-01ground on their way back down, we were already in college orientation, selecting classes, trying to figure out how Blackboard works, and wondering why textbooks are so expensive. I remember thinking I had everything figured out then: I’d get a bachelor’s in Creative Writing at the main campus of the University of Houston, have the college experience of a lifetime side by side with my high school sweetheart, and become a famous novelist with a plethora of puppies to call my children. Well, now I’ve switched to being a biology major at UHCL. I’m happily single and plan on becoming a veterinarian. (The puppies plan remains the same.) Life takes so many unexpected turns; sometimes, it’s really just a matter of learning to run with it. Expect the unexpected and deal.

High school teachers and parents usually take it upon themselves to drill a very particular statement into our brains: “College is important.” It is, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t as dire or as intense as they make it out to be. What your major is right now, what you got on that one essay, what you missed on that one class you fell asleep in — it doesn’t define you or your future. The reality is that you don’t know what’s going to happen after you walk that stage four

or eight or however many years from now. You don’t even know what’s going to happen in a year, a semester or a month. Life changes, minds change and you change. You grow up, you switch majors and you find new interests. That’s what college is all about – finding yourself and letting yourself flourish. Then you go out into the real world and repeat that process; this time with new knowledge and experiences to back you up. It took me a while to unlearn the lie that you have to decide your entire future at 18. You know what? I sleep a lot better now.


Being a Cougar was fun, I suppose. I got into the Houston Zoo for free, I could feed very friendly squirrels on my way to class and I played with therapy dogs during finals week. But was I happy? Probably not. The campus is huge, the classes are composed of literally hundreds of students, the professors didn’t know (nor cared to know) my name, and all in all I was just a bit lonely. I felt like a tiny goldfish trying to make it big in an ocean full of sharks. UH-Clear Lake, on the other hand, feels a hundred times smaller (and might actually be, but I’m not that great at math). Some people might not be so fond of a small campus, but to me it feels a lot homier. All of my classes are in one building, so I can say goodbye to running across campus under the burning Houston sun. Everyone seems to know each other, or knows someone who knows them. Making friends seems like less of a challenge and more of an inevitability here. Most importantly to me, though, the entire faculty seems so much more committed to their students. Thanks to the fact that the student body is relatively small, professors and tutors can actually take the time to get to know their students and work with their needs so that they not just pass a class, but actually succeed and reach their academic goals. Sure, main campus had its tutoring programs and whatnot, but they always felt more like last option resources than anything else. I also love how everyone normalizes counseling/therapy and is so open about it. No one here seems to shy away from the fact that anxiety, depression and overall crippling stress is abundant in our demographic. It only makes sense for the university itself to address the issue, so I’m more than happy that UHCL strives to do just that for its students.

It’s because of this, and more, that I feel in my bones that UHCL is not going to be just another school I reluctantly attend, but a university and community that I will proudly be able to call my new home. So yeah. Being a Cougar was fun, but I bet being a Hawk is going to be exceptional.


Excited to Learn More

It hasn’t even been a full year since I have graduated. Second semester of my freshman year and I am not afraid or nervous this time around. I feel prepared and even excited to learn something new. I left 2014 with a 3.375 GPA and I know at this point I can only get better. The year of 2014 was onebianca1 of the best years of my life, my eighteenth year of living. Transitioning from high school to college was such an eye opener and I know my journey is still in its infancy.

Coming into 2015 really affected me because I know as time goes by I stray further and further away from my parents. Is anyone ever really prepared to branch out on their own? Spending time with my family becomes more important to me as they get older. My sister Amber, my niece Jocelyn, my grandmother and my mother are the most beautiful women in my life and everything I am doing now is mainly for them. Four generations in one picture.

Over the break, I had a birthday. I am now nineteen years old and I do feel different. I know Ibianca2 am still very young, but I cherish my years and it sort of hurt me to know I was no longer eighteen. I spent the day with the ones closest to me and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. As we enter a new year, I also entered into another phase within my personal life. My partner, Ibrahim, finally met my family and it was such a wonderful feeling to have all my loved ones together. I’m so excited to see what this year has in store.

I went on a road trip to Austin, Texas with a couple of friends just because I could. We visited the state capital, walked through all of downtown and visited local landmarks. It was very interesting visiting another city and meeting new people. One of my new year’s resolution is to travel more. It’s only right to start off with the major cities in Texas. I’m thinking San Antonio for my next road trip. I have visited San Antonio, but never without my mother so that is definitely something to look forward to!bianca4

I hung out with my peers of the Hawk Leadership Institute during a retreat at Armand Bayou. We spent the whole day together and I felt closer to them by the time we departed ways. I feel comforted to know that our group will spend more quality time together, and we were all on the same page when we realized we all wanted to reach out to our community. We all have the same mindsets, and there is no stopping us from making a difference.



My year has been off to a great start, and I feel at ease knowing I am only taking thirteen credit hours this semester. I’ve learned from my mistakes, and my organizational skills will be in full affect so I do not ever fall behind. I wish all of my fellow hawks a great year and much success!

— Bianca